Archive for January, 2011

Even Penguins Know It’s Good To Be In The Center

January 29, 2011

“Did you know penguins push one of their own into the water to see if it’s safe?” I asked a teen. We were discussing social angst among teenagers and the evolutions he has been through in recent years. “No,” he answered, a smile forming on his face as if he knew where I was going with it. I set out to describe the flock, thousands of black and white winged bowling pins, bobbling and chattering at the edge of the ice, wondering if it’s safe to go in the water. When, “Plop!” — there goes Joe, into the water. If he survives, the others know the water is free from predatory seals. In the alternative, if Joe gets munched, well, it’s clearly not a good place to dive in. Actually, scientists aren’t really sure if the penguin collective intentionally sacrifices a martyr member, or if it’s more of an accident. What’s most likely is — with the group’s high energy, en masse jostling at the waters edge trying to decide if it’s a good launch spot — somebody gets bumped. And “Joe” gets to test the waters. Now there’s something to be said for Joe — if he survives — because he will have faced enormous risk and emerged triumphant from the cool blue, appearing to be a hero to his fellow fowls. But probability tells us it could go the other way just as easily, and for the next guy in the Joe row, the outcome may be entirely different. And the teen, he was relating to “Joe,” actually dozens of “Joes” that he has and continues to encounter in his daily life. Positioned somewhere in the middle of the flock, he was watching the frenzy along the water’s edge as his friends struggle with their experiences. Swirling all around him were feelings of depression, melodrama, anger, identity, family problems, stress, fear. And the outcome of those feelings were what was bothering him as he watched friends struggle with their problems, often turning to the wrong things as solutions. Some of it he had already been through on his journey, some of it was shocking and some of it he just couldn’t understand.But in his desire to help them, he ran the risk of getting to close to the front row. “Where do you think the best position is in the penguin flock?” I asked.“… Right where you are now.” I went on to tell him if I were a penguin, I would want to be somewhere in the middle, close enough to see Joe, but not close enough to be Joe.

I could gain from Joe’s experience just from watching. If he survived, I’d know there was smooth swimming in my future, if he didn’t make it, well, I would hate to see that but I have the opportunity to apply the lesson where he won’t get to.The guys in the back have no clue what’s going on and will struggle to the front until one day they are Joe simply because they never knew. But it is those penguins, who have a good view of what is happening at the front who will benefit most, even though they may have to see a little tragedy along the way. And those who have had their turn along the ice’s edge but were lucky enough not to get bumped in are sometimes even better off, as long as they realize their luck and learn to move back a little. Sometimes we think we need to be out front, sometimes we think we need to be the ones making the waves so everyone else has to follow us — And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There’s a time to face risk and danger, but you do it on your own terms with wisdom and knowing without a doubt it’s right — not because you just happen to be the one that fell in or got bumped.

Knowing where you’ve been, knowing where you stand and knowing when there’s a risk in front of you goes a long way.

If you’re a penguin that is …

Penguin Yoga

January 26, 2011

I just came across a hilarious video of a nerdy guy in a penguin suit (one that we offer at Penguin Place btw), attending a Bikram (hot) Yoga class.  What I didn’t realize until the video was over was that it was an ad for Dunkin’ Donuts.  I suppose I should have noticed that the funny penguin guy was carrying and offering his fellow sweaty yoga friends an DD Ice Coffee, but I was too busy laughing.  Dunkin’ Donuts wanted to create awareness around the fact that their Iced Coffee is a perfect way to get a boost, and cool off, even in the winter.   Studiocom created a web-only video strategy for DD and apparently there are more in this series to come.  After all, who’s better to promote ice coffee in the winter better than a penguin?  A guy in a penguin suit!

Penguin Ends Up In Police Custody

January 26, 2011

LIMA, Peru – The Penguin Post has learned that a penguin recently took a wrong turn in Peru and ended up in police custody. The penguin, who has been dubbed Tomas, apparently lost his way and landed miles from home on the beaches of the Peruvian capital. Police found the penguin and brought him back to their station, where Tomas has been enjoying local celebrity status. Officers are taking care of him until he can be returned to his colony on an island off Peru’s coast. Tomas is a Humboldt penguin and his species is native to the coasts of Peru and Chile. They were given protected status under the Endangered Species Act last year.

Record Year For Penguin Swim

January 7, 2011

After all of the donations are in and tallied, organizers anticipate the 2011 New Year’s Day Penguin Swim in Ocean City, Md, a fundraiser for Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, will break records. More than $71,000 (net proceeds) in contributions was collected in 2010, setting a new record for the Berlin hospital’s annual fundraiser. Approximately 500 people donned everything from bathing suits to superhero costumes as they plunged into the 45-degree ocean at 91st Street last year. “It was the best year ever for funds raised by the Penguin Swim. Hopefully, 2011 will exceed that,” said Amy Unger, AGH director of development, prior to the 2011 swim. Though organizers on Monday did not yet have a firm number of how many people participated in the 17th annual Penguin Swim, they estimate approximately 900 to 1,000 brave souls jumped in the 42- degree ocean on Jan. 1. “We will continue to receive pledge payments and donations throughout the month to benefit [the] annual Penguin Swim,” Unger said. “Due to the large turnout of penguins, supporters and the community at large, we are very pleased to report that we anticipate exceeding our goal of $80,000.” Several factors contributed to the overwhelming number of participants this year, Unger said. The weather, at nearly 50 degrees and sunny, was much warmer this year than during past events, and the swim took place on a Saturday, which helped draw a record amount of spectators and “penguins.” Also, media outlets and the town of Ocean City promoted the swim. Swim Chairwoman Patricia Ilczuk- Lavanceau said one participant she talked to found out about the event via an Ocean City phone application. Many people also registered at the last minute because of the warm temperature and there were a good amount of first-timers this year, she said. Ilczuk-Lavanceau described the Penguin Swim as “phenomenal.” “People’s moods were uplifted. Everyone was pumped up and excited,” she said. “It was truly a real high. I was blown away by the turnout and the number of people that want to support our hospital. Our goal was $80,000 and I’m pretty confident we’re going to break that goal.”

After the swim, penguins gathered at the Princess Royale’s Atrium to warm up in the pool and hot tubs. Awards were presented to the youngest and oldest swimmers, as well as to the top team and individual money-raisers. Participants dressed in the best costumes also received awards. The youngest penguin was 5-monthold Jay Kettler of Leesburg, Va. The oldest was 82-year-old Pasquale Lemme of Newark, Md. Kevin Massey of Delmar, Del. raised $1,000 and earned a third-place honor for individual donors. Craig Kettler of Leesburg, Va. collected $4,275, and the top individual fundraiser was, for the seventh consecutive year, Woody “Butch” German of Baltimore, who raised $4,445. In the team category, third place went to the AGH Flapping Flamingos for donating approximately $6,000. In second place was the Ocean Pines Penguin Swim Team, who collected close to $6,200. The Bull on the Beach team, which included more than 200 swimmers, was the top team fundraiser again this year, donating about $20,000. During the 17-year history of the event, the Bull on the Beach team has raised approximately $300,000 for AGH. Bull on the Beach owner, Phil Houck, typically leads his team from the 94th Street restaurant to the starting line on the day of the swim. As a surprise, Ilczuk- Lavanceau said Houck was honored as “King of the Penguin Swim,” and received a crown, cape and scepter, during the awards ceremony. The Penguin Swim is one of the hospital’s main fundraisers. Before the 2011 event, more than $500,000 (net proceeds) had been donated to AGH.

Baby Penguin Waddles Into Lions Den!

January 7, 2011

Holy cow! Er, Holy Baby Penguin in a lions den!  The Penguin Post has learned that a curious baby penguin (known at the time simply as number 459) waddled out of her enclosure and through a den of sleeping lions at the Münster Zoo in Germany, as she took herself on a solo tour of the of the zoo on Wednesday. After eluding her keepers, a startled zoo visitor spotted the penguin blissfully strolling up and down the ice-covered moat alongside the enclosure and alerted authorities, who spent the rest of day trying to lure her out of the den without waking up the sleeping lions.  Success came when keepers eventually came up with the idea of tempting her with herring. “Luckily the family of lions didn’t pose a threat because they were dozing in the warmth of their house,” the zoo said in a statement. The Penguin Post reports that the penguins keeper gave her a name after the incident, she is known as ‘Leona’ now.

Our own Rose re-enacts the baby penguin escape from her enclosure.

Penguin Place Flat Rate Shipping Waddles Away

January 7, 2011

We tried.  We really tried to have a simple, customer friendly flat rate Penguin Place shipping rate, but alas our four month experiment of $5.00 Flat Rate U.S. ground shipping for any and all orders is about to end.  Don’t blame us, blame the Post Office and UPS for their recent rate hikes.  The post office fools you into thinking there is no rate hike, but all they do is keep the price of their lowest Priority Mail rates the same.  Flat Rate envelopes ($4.75) and small flat rate boxes ($4.95) are the same price, as well as local shipping below one pound, but everything else has increased by lots.  Anything more than one pound to anywhere west of the Rockies and South of Kentucky is almost $10, and don’t ask about the prices for more than two pounds.  The same thing with UPS, except add another dollar or two with “brown”.    So, for the greater penguin good, we have to scrap our very easy to digest $5.00 flat rate shipping, but it was nice while it lasted.  Our new rates will start at $4.99 and gradually increase about $1.00 for every $20 in sales reaching $9.99 for $100.  Still, pretty reasonable if we do say so ourselves.


Penguin Wallpaper Border Nears Extinction

January 6, 2011

Lots of our penguins have sadly bitten the dust at Penguin Place this holiday season. That’s simply the nature of the penguin beast.  We were offering nearly 800 different penguin items, and some of them will sell out and not return, either because we need to make room for new items or the manufacturer / distributer has discontinued them.  But, every once in a while a penguin comes along that’s so cool, and so unique that when the manufacturer tells us they’re not going to offer it anymore, we say how many do we have to order for you to change your mind.   That was the case with our penguin wallpaper border way back in the year 1999 when we asked that question to the owner of the wallpaper factory in Ohio a dozen years ago.  His answer was a staggering 5,000 rolls!   We said 2,000, they said 4,000 and of course we settled  on 3,000 rolls of penguin border.   When the 30 boxes arrived, (do you have any idea how heavy a box of 100 rolls of penguin wallpaper border is? ) it seemed as if we’d never run out, but a dozen years later we’re sadly down to our last two rolls.  Lot’s has changed since 1999, but most importantly for lovers of classic penguin wallpaper border, the wallpaper factory in Ohio is no more, and with them so goes the border.   So, it looks like after these last two prized rolls are gone, it’ll be the end of an era.  RIP, Penguin Border.  We’ll miss you.